Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Post Reading: Thicker Than Water - Kelly Fiore

Word Contessa Thicker Than Water Kelly Fiore


Title: Thicker Than Water
Author: Kelly Fiore
Published: 5 January 2016  by Harper Teen
Source: ARC from Publisher
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Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until one day she found a solution.


> 15 MILLION - The number of people in the US ALONE who abuse prescription drugs.
50% - The percentage of young adults who believe that prescription drugs are much safer than illegal street drugs.
54.2% - The percentage of prescription drug users who get them free from a friend/relative.


As appalling as these stats are, they are also very real.

There's no denying that drug abuse is a prevalent issue among young adults so it is downright shocking to find out that very few YA books address drug and substance abuse
So then why is that very few YA books talk about drug abuse? Perhaps the sensitivity and importance of this issue means that authors fear that they might sound either overly preachy or dismissive of it? This is definitely a valid fear because drug abuse is not something to be glorified, romanticized or used a mere plot device. Reading about difficult experiences and tough issues such as drug abuse (when properly portrayed) could give readers the power and knowledge required to reach out and get help to save a life

Kelly Fiore's Thicker Than Water is based not just on the effects of prescription drug abuse on the user but it's effects on their loved ones too. Narrated by CeCe, most of the story is focused on her time at a correctional facility in the days leading up to her trial. Her life prior to her brother's death is shown in flashbacks that were integrated seamlessly with the present incidents. Ellen Hopkin's Crank deals with substance abuse from the POV of the addict herself. But like Carrie Arcos's Out of ReachKelly Fiore's Thicker Than Water portray substance abuse from the perspective of the user's sibling. This is incredibly important because both novels highlight how addiction is not just harmful to the user but also to those around them.

Cecelia Price killed her brother. Or at least that's what CeCe tells us at the beginning of this story. But until the very end we are not told of the exact circumstance of his death. There's no question that CeCe is a flawed character who has faced so much loss and betrayal but not everything is as it seems because her guilt makes her somewhat of an unreliable narrator. She makes some questionable choices and nothing will justify her actions but I couldn't help but root for her. Initially she refuses to accept help at the correctional facility but slowly opens up and shows great development as a character. Her interactions with her roommate, psych evaluator, public defender, therapy group, father and her love interest, Tucker felt real. Fiore's exquisite prose makes the reader feel everything CeCe did. Her guilt, resentment, anger, helplessness and inner struggles felt incredibly raw and I found myself utterly moved.

Fiore does a brilliant job in portraying the relationship between the protagonist and her sibling and the dysfunctional familial relationships. Cyrus was not simply depicted as the addict instead, Fiore shows his other side through flashbacks. Most of the time, the absence of a good support system at home is the root cause of deaths related to substance abuse. This was depicted well in Thicker Than Water where CeCe's father turning a blind eye resulted in enabling Cyrus's downward spiral. On the other hand, I found the romance in the novel to be problematic and completely unnecessary.

Thicker Than Water does not shy away from the horrors and brutalities of addiction. Every moment felt real and you find in the author's note that the book was inspired by the struggles faced by one of her own family members. One particular incident deals with abuse and I found it incredibly difficult to read. Prescription drug abuse, addiction and death is a reality for many people out there and Kelly Fiore does an outstanding job in portraying this horrible reality.

Despite my reservations regarding the romance, I don't think Thicker Than Water is a story I'll be forgetting anytime soon.


4 Stars

“Sometimes we start living lives we never expected to live. Other times we pick up where one life left off. In the end, its not about where you came from, but where you are going”

“Death is never an answer. Its an end result. It’s a finale. But it certainly doesn’t lay questions to rest. In fact, the only thing it lays to rest is people - and, even then. I’d replace the word lay with disintegrate.  
And I’d replace word rest with dust.

Thicker Than Water is an exceptionally powerful story of substance abuse and drug addiction - Don't miss out on this heartrending novel. 

Have you read any of Kelly Fiore's work? Have you read any YA books that portray substance abuse fairly? 


  1. This sounds like a super interesting read. I know people who have or do abuse prescription drugs and I think this would be an important book for them. I like that it tackles such a tough topic. Loved this review. I hadn't heard of this book before today - so thanks!

    1. It's an AMAZING book and I'm glad to have put this on your radar! :D


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